i’m at work right now & there has been a big family bitchfest going on all day for the people i work for. lots of pointless bitching & adult-babiness delivered in a shrill voice that makes me want to crawl under my desk and hide. they tried to drag me into it at one point, but i hid in the bathroom until the fighting momentarily died down, and then went back into the conference room with my little notebook like nothing had happened. i’m very good at hiding.
god, families are so fucked up! i am feeling very triggered and nervous right now & i just want to go home but i need the $, plus it would be kind of awkward if i told my boss, “your daughter’s insanity makes me really nervous because i was raised by a pair of insane people and i haven’t quite worked out my issues with that, so i think i, like, need to go home and breathe deeply for a while and drink some stress relief tea & remind myself over & over again that i live somewhere safe now. okay?”
on a lighter note, thanksgiving was really good. i got super stressed & depressed the day before, but everything worked out fine. most of the food turned out well, people brought tasty shit, everyone i invited more or less got along, many laughs were had, colleen discovered a new hairstyle for me, and i had a lot of good conversations and generally felt the love. the day before thanksgiving i was super bummed about how different everything is this year, but the actual act of thanksgiving itself reminded me of all the new roads that are opening, that continue to open as we speak. reminded me of the amazingness i am capable of & the splendid people that i’ve met this year. & for real i am thankful, for so much. i don’t need a fucking holiday to remind me. i have two things to remind me every day to be thankful. one is that i saw one of my best friends die a lengthy, slow and terrible death. the most vital woman i ever knew; i saw her strength and will to live get sucked out week by week until there wasn’t anything left. thing number two is that i work with prisoners. i write to them and i work with a whole bunch of people on pre-release. & those two things shape me & remind me on even the suckiest most horrible days that my life & freedom are such a precious fucking gift & i have no right to waste them.
and with that, back to work…
this past week i got two of the most intense letters i’ve ever gotten. one is intense in a good way, one is intense in a bad way. one is from my current love interest, the other is from a friend of mine in prison. i keep them side-by-side on the guestroom bed (my fave spot to write letters these days) as a testament to the wide variety of human experience. or something.
still feeling shitty. thanksgiving is serving as a harsh reminder of exactly how much things have changed in one year, and not for the better. but fuck it, right? i still have good people around me. today will be a whirlwind of prep work, baking & cleaning; tomorrow will be all about the actual cooking & entertaining & hoping that things work out okay. this is the first party/gathering/dinner i’ve ever thrown totally by myself. usually i have at least one faggot at the helm smoothing things out, but now it’s just me.
yesterday i had one of the worst bike rides of my life to my job in oakland. and then later that night, amanda and i had a near-perfect bike ride back from the hill district. the snow wasn’t flying in a painful way & we rode fast & talked. she told me i make late-night bike rides magical & i am glad to be that person.
oh man, i was totally not ready for winter. riding my bike down the sharp drop of stanton ave this morning, the saliva was blown out of my mouth & the tears from my eyes. winter biking is so sucky. ever since i moved to pgh, people have been congratulating me on being a winter biker, which is a nice ego inflation but really, it never occurred to me to stop. it’s not like i will magically get a car and the ability to drive it once the mercury plunges below 32. instead my whole perspective changes: going up a hill, previously a sweaty chore, is now a body-warming delight. going down a hill, once a fun way to get home, is now a literal slap in the face. it’s all about the layering, and about having friends who still love you no matter how much snot is covering your face when you arrive at their house.
i thought i’d escaped the november blah’s but i think they were just late in coming. (i know i misused an apostrophe in that previous sentence, but for some reason it looks right that way.) today i’m sick and weepy at work. i am craving plums, even though i haven’t had a plum in years (picture me singing “hey lover” by LL cool j, but substituting the word “plum”: “i can’t believe it/i haven’t had a crush in years”). too bad i live in lawrenceville, and am shit out of luck when it comes to fresh produce, as are many residents of low-income urban neighborhoods in america. it’s not surprising, but that doesn’t mean i can’t stand in the vegetable aisle, fingering endless mounds of wilted kale, and get enraged. the cold makes it hard for me to bend my fingers or hold a pen, even though my hands and wrists have gotten way better in the past few months. i feel old & decrepit.
i stayed up way too late last night watching “american beauty”. i loved that movie in high school, so much so that i skipped work to watch it in the theatre with a crush-girl & it was one of the best days back then. the movie energized us, made us grateful for our stupid lives. we went to the mall afterwards and she breakdanced in old navy & i loved her so much. i loved making those fake-nailed mall-dwellers confused, loved making them stare, because we were alive goddamnit! but watching it again nine years later i just criticized. i got angry at the ubiquity of the white male heterosexual viewpoint in movies. i only made it halfway through before i got too sleepy, and i recall the second half is much better, so maybe i just haven’t gotten to the good stuff yet. still, hating that movie also made me feel old & decrepit.
today is the first day since i moved to pittsburgh where the mountains aren’t covered in smog. i don’t know where the hell it went, but it was gorgeous. GORGEOUS.
reading brilliant emails from people who used to love you & no longer do is a really, really bad way to pass the time in the office. shit, even perezhilton would have been better!
i made curried okra & string beans last night and it was so damn good.
i love queen latifah. i wish she would come out of the closet.
i am going to meet the shiny new greyhound station tonight! 11th street, here i come! and beyond….
quick, quick, before i forget: today i was riding to work, late as usual, when i heard this following conversational gem from a white middle-aged rough-looking man in my neighborhood, on keystone street, yelling into his cell phone: “naw, fucker, i don’t do that! [pause.] i give you an exclusive invitation to my fuckin’ body, and you say, ‘oh, i don’t know, maybe later’??! naw, i don’t do that…” and then his voice faded away as i headed out of the 10th ward and into the 9th.
i have realized lately that i have no memory. last night ali asked me to tell a hilarious story (the one about the woman at donny’s hitting on me by rubbing a glowstick between my breasts) and i could hardly remember it at all. also, i got a myspace comment from a long-lost friend thanking me for the zine. but i have no recollection of having her address or sending her a zine!!!!!! this is scary. also, ali asked me if i remembered talking about something with her at dinner, and i said, “kinda?” and then she jokingly said, “you remember having dinner with me, right?” only to be met by a terrified blank stare. after what felt like minutes i said, “oh…..yeah…..at that, um, soup place, right?” i was referring to her girlfriend colleen’s house, and a super-fun dinner party that i loved, where colleen made three types of delicious soup and lots of hilarious conversation was had. but where did it go? where is it going, and why is this happening?
okay, that dinner party was four days ago. for most people, four days is four days. for me, it is a lifetime. my worldview has changed significantly since that day, i have had many changes just like i do every single day. it’s okay, it’s not a bad thing.
i went to an amazing show last night. i love pittsburgh, because someone (okay, it was etta) screamed “I LOVE THE LIBRARY!” between shows. it wasn’t totally random, as a library reference was being made, but it still warmed my jaded little fucking heart.
so much more to say! but i’m at work and i need to type some powers of attorney before my boss gets in. oh, speaking of my boss, i would like to write down a hilarious boss quote before i forget that too. it was from last friday, twenty millenia ago, when i poured some coffee into a hot chocolate packet (yes, i’m back on the bean again. loving it!) that had little marshmallows floating around. my boss peered into my cup. “marshmallows!” he exclaimed. then he turned to his driver and said, in a voice that was awed and rueful all at once, “at least she knows how to live the good life!”
whoa! at the library. haven’t been home in nearly twenty-four hours. yesterday was a whirlwind of genuinely antagonistic postal workers, craft fairs, good friends, other people’s fun houseguests, tasty soup, riding my bike slowly up a hill on the sidewalk while listening to good tunez, dancing to some more good tunez with sweaty stanky crusty punx, and snoozing on my friend alyssa’s couch. woke up and it really felt like november, all gray and hopeless and cold. i read an excellent zine in a coffee shop and here i sit at the library, waiting for book ‘em to open. i have a key to the building, and i could go at any time, but i don’t like opening book ‘em. i don’t want to close today either, but i feel like i will get railroaded into it, so i am biding my time & plan on getting there nice and late.
yesterday a kitten shook my hand, for real. it was charming. i was petting it and it extended its paw repeatedly and finally i took it and gave it a little shake. so cute!
perhaps this is the most mediocre journal entry of my life. i don’t care; i need to write down minutiae because i no longer have a steel-trap-esque memory, it’s sad, really. although sometimes it’s kind of funny. i get to be surprised by my life. for example: i was recently flipping through a notebook of random writing i did when i was 20. i found a list that said:
“REASONS I AM GLAD I AM NOT A NORMAL PERSON
1. i never saw the face of the virgin mary in a corn chip”
what the fuck?!?!!? i have no memory of writing that, or why i thought that was relevant enough to be a number one (and in fact, the only) reason i am glad to not be a normal person.
in 2008, with 5 minutes left on the library computer, i will write a better list.
REASONS I AM GLAD I AM NOT A NORMAL PERSON [upon writing this, i realize the true title of this list is "reasons i am glad i am not a normal white middle-class-background able-bodied college-educated woman"] [by "normal" i am using the definition espoused in "cosmo" magazine and my high school classmates]
by 26-year-old ocean
1. don’t have to shave my legs
2. don’t feel bad about not having a “real” job
3. almost nothing i do is motivated by guilt
4. don’t put up with stupid misogynist male behavior for any reason
5. the focus of my life is writing books and getting books into the hands of people who need them; not finding a husband or advancing in a soulless corporate job
6. i can feel the breeze on my face & get to know my city from the vantage point of a bike instead of spending lots of money to be trapped inside a climate-controlled box all year
7. i eat whatever the fuck i want [and can afford] and do not feel bad for even an iota of a second
8. i have gained a whole lot of weight in the past year and my self-worth has not dropped at all
i can only think of 8 right now. there are drawbacks to being a weirdo, too, but i am not very motivated to list those right now.
watching cnn with branden i got goosebumps. i remember four years ago, turning on the tv in my basement apartment alone, when they still couldn’t call it. going to sleep and dreaming of ohio turning blue; waking up to a world where i was wrong. and i remember the complete and utter despair of that day. the feeling that no matter what i do i, and everyone i love, is going to be annihilated in this world. that there is no justice. the feeling that nothing would ever change.
watching everyone jump around and scream in that chicago park; i felt the exact opposite of that. that despair turned inside out. i know it’s more complicated than that, i know there are still plenty of reasons to despair. but this moment is a brilliant one and i feel overjoyed. joy is the only word.
wow, what a great day. i spent my morning grantwriting for social justice, and meeting up with the better half of team grantwriting to edit, revise, encourage. then i did some more work at the library, rode home in the gorgeous fucking weather, ran into pino, talked and laughed, voted, received a very ego-inflating text message, sped my ass home for a shower and then back up the hill to oakland for a job interview, got the job (!), and had the following conversation on fifth ave:
straight dude:here, take this! vote for obama! (hands me a generic sticker)
me: oh, that’s okay. i already voted.
chubby sassy black gay dude: here, take this! (hands me a rainbow “pride for obama” sticker, which i begin to put on my hoodie.
straight dude:no! wait! you don’t want that sticker!
me: oh yeah? why don’t i?
straight dude:because…uhh…because…you just don’t, trust me.
me:but i’m gay!
straight dude: really! what? wow, i had no idea!!
chubby sassy black gay dude: oh, come on.
this happened on friday. but i am so busy!
my boss [reviewing the books]: why is the internet bill filed under “dues”?
bookkeeper: uhh…i don’t know…that’s just how we’ve always done it.
my boss: well, it isn’t dues. file it under….i don’t know, peaches, sediment, anything but dues! because it isn’t dues!